Monday, 5 March 2012

5: Rod Building - Wrapping the guides.

In the last article on rod building, I covered placing the guides according to the new guide concept.  Once you're happy with the position of your guides, it's time to get whipping!  (or "wrapping" if you prefer).

If you remember, my handle was finished in black EVA with red trim rings:
So I now want to follow that theme with a simple black wrap with a red trim.  Simplicity itself, though even here you can have several options: should the trim be in a metallic red?  Should the trim be single or double?  Perhaps a simple turn of a single thread might look better?  When you're unsure of how a colour scheme will turn out, the only way to solve it is do some practice wraps.

First job is to prepare the guide feet.  All guides when they come are fairly crudely finished.  If you try to whip a guide foot that hasn't been tapered, you'll end up with a ugly step in your whipping, quite possibly with the guide foot showing through.  The shot below shows an unprepared foot:
You can see that you would never get your thread to smoothly mount that guide foot.  So either get some heavy gauge wet-and-dry paper, a chainsaw file or a standard very fine metal file or a sharping stone.  Anything really, as your only taking a tiny bit off the foot to give a nicer gradient for the thread to mount:
Keep checking that the foot lies flat against the blank and that the chamfer goes right to the blank and is as gentle in gradient as you can be bothered to make it.  The more gradual it is the better your wrap will look, but it doesn't matter on a large size guide if there's a bit of bump.

Once you're happy, you're ready to wrap.  I'd advise you to have several goes at this if it's your first time.  Don't feel too precious about cutting it all off and trying a different colour scheme.  The more you practice the easier you'll find it.

As I want a narrow band of red at the end of the whip, I generally put my pull through loops onto the blank in advance of starting the wrap using a bit of masking tape.  Apologies for the quality of the photos - my old camera phone wasn't the best at close ups:
I next tie in the red thread that make up the trim band,  again fixing it with tiny pieces of masking tape:
Once both of those are attached to the blank with tape, I start my main wrap colour.  In my case it's plain black.  The hardest part in starting is to form the initial "X" where your wrap thread crosses over the end of the thread.  As you wind, you can sometimes find that even after several turns, your wrap rotates as you turn your rod.  To stop this happening, make your crossover X as usual, then keep wrapping  the end of the thread around your rod in the opposite direction to your wrap thread.  Do half a dozen turns.  Now start turning the rod and let your wrap thread cover the end thread.  Pull the end thread as you go, it will turn the rod in the right direction, eventually it will come up against the wrap thread and you can't pull it any more.  You can now trim it off and keep winding your wrap thread over the end.  It sounds a lot more complicated than it is - I promise you!  

I've put together a series of step by step pictures on how to whip a female spigot joint below which shows this in more detail - if you follow the steps you should find it easy to master the start of wrap neatly and consistently.

Keep winding your wrap thread until you get within 10-15 turns of the end of the guide foot.  Tie in your loop and finish the wrap as usual.  Now go back and do the trim wrap.  Wind the trim thread a few turns (less is generally considered better) and put the end through the original loop that was fastened with masking tape.  Pull tight, trim the thread a few millimeters from the end, and pull the loop through.  You'll probably be left with a few ends to trim with a razor or craft knife.  Be careful here - very easy to try and cut too close and nick the underlying wrap, which means re-doing the lot!

The final wrap will looking something like this (this was one of my colour tests):
Don't worry if it looks a bit rough in places with gaps, you can smooth those out by rubbing it with your finger nail or smooth thin round piece of plastic.  Go gently, it's very easy to loosen a thin trim band at the end of the wrap, with the inevitable result!

Starting the wrap

To make the process of a basic wrap a bit clearer, I've included a step by step photo shot of wrapping the female spigot joint.  This is exactly the same process as above, but with better photos!

Start by taping on your trim band thread. Make sure you have enough for a few turns!

Tape on your  pull-through loop for the band.  The main wrap loop can be tied in later.
Now start your main wrap thread.  Create an 'X' and then wrap the end thread round the rod in the opposite direction half a dozen turns or so.  Now you can pull on that and it will turn the rod, wrapping it as it goes until there are no more turns left of the end thread and it comes up against the turns of the wrap.  This makes it easy to start the wrap.

Now trim the end thread.  You can go much closer than this.

Continue the wrap until about 6-8 turns from the end, then tie in your pull-through loop.  Finish the wrap and start trim band.  Tie this off using the loop you put in earlier, or you can insert one immediately you start the band, though with very narrow bands this makes for a weak finish.

Final wrap.  You can move it about and tidy up any gaps, but be very gentle with either end, if it goes loose you 'll need to do the whole lot again!

Repeat for the remaining rings.  It's not a quick process - I'd expect it to take a few evenings if it's your first effort.

Tight lines to those fishing.


  1. Beautiful!

    Really excellent work. I'm very impressed.


  2. Cheers Frank - just got the first coat of epoxy on. Doesn't look bad. Next bit is the fancy writing near the handle! :-0


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